Tag Archives: charter schools

Did Dave Linzey receive CVCHS Board approval for financial assistance to fund his new charter?

The CVCHS Board is governed by the state open meeting laws, meaning any decisions have to be discussed and voted on in open public meetings.

Why has the Board not discussed the financial assistance for David Linzey’s new charter in an open board meeting?

cvchs-funding

And why is it not on the agenda for this Wednesday’s meeting seeing as the charter petition is being presented to the county on October 19?

See the agenda here:

cvchs-board-agenda-10-12-16

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Is CVCHS Funding David Linzey’s New Clayton Valley Charter Tech Academy?

cv-tech-petition Clayton Valley Tech – Charter Petition

cv-tech-appendix Clayton Valley Tech – Charter Petition Appendix

Wondering why CV sits on an $11 million surplus but continues to ask parents to donate for school supplies, tech supports, sports etc?

Because the CV Board has pledged to use its money (amount “TBD”) to help David Linzey and his new charter corporation open a new school (“Clayton Valley Charter Tech Academy”) located at the St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church  on Kirker Pass Rd.

When did the CV Board vote to fund a new charter?  And why doesn’t the CV Board care that its Executive Director is spending his time planning new charters instead of focusing on fixing the problems at CV?  Maybe because CV Board members Richard Assadoorian and Ted Meriam are part of the advisory council to the new charter?  And CV Board members Tom Sparks and Sarah Lovick have agreed to teach at the new school?

The CVC Tech Academy charter petition is scheduled to be presented to the Contra Costa County Board of Education on Wednesday, October 19th.

http://www.cccoe.k12.ca.us/supe/board.html#meetings

 

 

 

American Indian Model Schools file response to allegations of financial, organizational misconduct

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Oakland North Article Picture

AIMS board chairperson Jean Martinez looks on as attorney Paul Minney addresses the OUSD board at the Sept. 27 board meeting. Photo by Lauren Kawana.

Administrators at the American Indian Model Schools—a set of three Oakland charter schools, two middle schools and one high school—responded late Monday night to a 1,080-page notice of violations given to them by the Oakland Unified School District, OUSD spokesperson Troy Flint said Wednesday.

School officials had been given until November 28 to respond to the district’s allegations regarding improper business contracts, inappropriate credit card usage and lack of school board meeting documentation, but filed their response two days early. If the response does not appropriately answer the questions posed by OUSD school board members about the schools’ finances and organization, the district could decide to revoke the schools’ charters.

The response will be summarized and released to the public after the Oakland school board members read it and remove confidential information, such as student or employee names, Flint said. “It was a long response. It filled up many binders,” Flint said. “The board will have some guidance from our legal team, but they will ultimately decide the fate of AIMS, whether the schools will remain open and in what capacity.”

AIMS operates three charter schools in Oakland: American Indian Public Charter School, American Indian Public High School and American Indian Public Charter School II. The schools reported a total enrollment of almost 500 students during the 2010-2011 school year; in that year, reports to the California Department of Education indicated that almost 70 percent of the students were Asian, 18 percent were Hispanic and 1 percent were American Indian. For the past few years, the schools have had consistently high Academic Performance Index scores, which measure a school’s yearly progress and determine federal funding. During the 2009-2010 school year, American Indian Public Charter School had an API of 988, the highest of all the schools in the state.

The district’s review of the school’s operations began in 2011, when it was given information from a confidential source regarding “improper financial dealings” at the AIMS schools, Flint said. Early this year, the Alameda County Office of Education requested that the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) audit the AIMS schools. The audit was released this June. According to the audit, the study team found evidence of problems, including conflicts of interest in awarding school contracts, inappropriate credit card charges made by school officials, and a lack of documentation for decisions made by the schools’ board members in their meetings. 

This September, the district issued a “notice of violations” to the schools based on that audit, as well as public records and previous correspondence between OUSD and AIMS board members. The AIMS administration was given 60 days to provide documentation that the FCMAT auditors said had been missing when they compiled their June report. AIMS administration members were also required to provide a written response to the OUSD, including an explanation or defense against the notice’s accusations, and a plan for remedial measures.  This is the written response the district has just received.

At a heavily-attended September 27 school board meeting, when OUSD formally gave AIMS the notice of violations, board members emphasized that the notice did not mean they would close the schools, something that concerned AIMS schools parents in attendance.    But if this new AIMS response proves unsatisfactory, officials made clear, OUSD could begin the process of revoking the schools’ charters.

Some of the central allegations in the district’s notice focus on financial transactions involving Ben Chavis, the founder of two of the AIMS schools and the former director of all three.  The notice asserts that Chavis and his wife, Marsha Amador, collected almost $4 million from contracts made between the AIMS schools and Chavis’ businesses, including lease agreements, storage agreements and construction contracts—upgrading restroom facilities in 2006 and 2007—for the schools.

According to the notice, though the AIMS school board approved the contracts, there is no indication that they were aware of the money Chavis and his spouse would make from their businesses, including Lumbee Holdings and American Delivery Systems. Since state laws prohibit public officials, officers and employees from engaging in a contract in which they have a financial interest, Chavis’ membership on the AIMS board and the AIMS contracts that financially benefited him appear to be conflicts of interest, according to the FCMAT audit report.

The report also concluded that school funds had been used for personal reasons by Chavis. The study team requested documentation for credit card charges totaling over $72,602.28. According to the report, among the purchases without proper documentation were charges for almost $6,000 on Amazon, over $750 at Home Depot and almost $300 for San Francisco Giants tickets.

The notice of violations and the FCMAT audit report also included complaints about the recording of the school’s board minutes and the lack of details in board meeting reports. For example, the audit report states that “the board approved a maximum of $500,000 to be spent on construction, but there was no discussion of the projects to be completed, timeliness, funding sources or the selection of contractors. Bidding, quotations and requests for proposals were never discussed or considered.”

Board meetings were not held in accordance to schedules, and board minutes and agendas were not available for the FCMAT study team, the OUSD report stated. The district’s report also said Chavis had reported that all board minutes and agendas were stolen from the schools’ business office.

Perhaps more troubling was the OUSD report’s recap of previous notices of concern given to the AIMS board. The first, issued in November 2011, addressed concerns about an apparent lack of teacher credentials and the rapid expansion of the AIMS middle school, American Indian Public Charter School II, beyond 200 students, as first planned in its charter. The second, in January 2012, addressed complaints that OUSD said it had received from anonymous sources about “serious allegations of sexual harassment and verbal or physical abuse of students,” according to the OUSD report. These include a complaint about a staff member kissing a 14-year-old female student, and a sexual harassment complaint filed against Chavis in 2011.

In its January 2012 notice of concern, the OUSD asked the AIMS board to provide all reports of complaints over the past three years. Flint also said the district’s entire report had been sent to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, as required by FCMAT guidelines.

Flint was not able to speak about the content of the AIMS board’s Monday response yet; he said a summary of the response will be available to the public after OUSD members have been able to read it. Ben Chavis, current AIMS director Jason Chu, and the schools’ attorney did not respond to repeated requests for comments.

One of the teachers at an AIMS school said the staff had been working hard to prepare the school’s response. Ryan Young, an eighth grade teacher at AIPCS II, said a few teachers were asked to help create the response. “A lot of the stuff they said we don’t have, we do actually have,” he said.  “We’ve been spending several hours every night for the past month and a half basically compiling spreadsheets of documentation.”

Parents of AIMS students have been worried about the schools closing since they were given notices of concern by the OUSD in late 2011, said parent Aster Zeriezghi. “This is one of the few schools where kids in eighth or ninth grade are already thinking about college,” she said. “We don’t want to send our kids to any other school in Oakland.”

Flint said the AIMS response will be discussed at the next school board meeting, which will be held on December 12.

By Nausheen Husain

Posted November 29, 2012 11:00 am

Additional reporting for this story was done by Lauren Kawana.

Read the entire OUSD notice of violations report here. (Click on “12-2557 Notice of Violation – Named Schools.”)  The FCMAT audit report is included, on pages 946 to 1,001

https://oaklandnorth.net/2012/11/29/american-indian-model-schools-file-response-to-allegations-of-financial-organizational-misconduct/

High drama as Oakland charter school cuts ties with unsavory past

OAKLAND — In the 2½ years since American Indian Model Schools leader Ben Chavis left after a state audit showed he directed at least $3.8 million from the school to companies he owned, the school has paid him an additional $8.6 million to use his buildings.

Now, new leaders at the high-performing charter school are attempting to get out from under Chavis’ shadow by moving out of two classroom buildings and an office he rents to the school on 35th Avenue for $46,000 a month and by orchestrating the removal of three board members.

But the impending changes have caused turmoil at the school, including student walkouts over school board politics, a restraining order against a former board member, police intervention at a school board meeting, and teacher and staff turnover.

CCT Oakland American Charter

Maya Woods-Cadiz, new superintendent of the American Indian Public Charter Schools, stands in a hallway of the Middle School building at the East Oakland campus in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, May 14, 2015. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

“We are trying to separate the school from Chavis,” school board President Steven Leung said. “The school district would like to see us not be associated with him. I think we’re in good hands.”

Founded in 1996 and currently serving about 1,000 students, the American Indian Model Schools have established a strong record of academic success with a strict, test-oriented approach but have struggled in recent years with allegations of mismanagement and fraud.

Last year, the school paid Chavis $7.5 million to buy a building that houses a K-8 campus on 12th Street in downtown Oakland. Leung said the school had no choice but to buy because it didn’t have anywhere else to go at the time.

An investigation and finding by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights that the 35th Avenue campus does not meet disability access requirements, coupled with a stalemate over who would make repairs, prompted plans to move from that facility.

SAVING MONEY

New Superintendent Maya Woods-Cadiz, a former Oakland school district principal and administrator, and Leung hope that by moving 300 high school students to the 12th Street building and by moving 150 middle school students to Oakland’s Bella Vista Elementary school for rent of just $38,000 a year, they can save money and fix their disability access problem without having to continue hounding Chavis to make repairs.

“Mr. Chavis has known about the conditions at that school for quite some time, but he doesn’t want to fix it,” Leung said. “The Office for Civil Rights has asked us to either fix it or move. We’ve sent multiple notices to Mr. Chavis.”

But Chavis, who is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation by the IRS and FBI relating to his financial dealings with the school, called Leung’s comments about his refusal to make repairs at the school a “damn lie” and referred to Woods-Cadiz as a “(expletive) loser.”

Chavis, who lives in North Carolina, said he never received any notice from the school’s lawyers asking him to make disability access repairs. He also acknowledged the rent at the 35th Avenue campus is high.

“I did charge them high rent, but when I was there I gave it all back so I could send the illegals to college,” Chavis said. “I did work the system, but then I took my salary and donated it back to the school. If I’m a crook, we need more crooks, it sounds like to me.”

The former AIMS leader said moving the 35th Avenue high school students to the school’s 12th Street building and putting the middle school students at Bella Vista is “a stupid idea” because they will lose a gymnasium in his building and there won’t be enough room for the high school students at the 12th Street building.

Leung and Woods said moving out of the campus will help the school move on from Chavis.

There is “no more Mr. Chavis, and we have a really strong board now,” Woods-Cadiz said.

POST-CHAVIS

The school originally was primarily oriented toward American Indians. Chavis was hired in 2001, and soon after the student demographic started to change to a broader community.

For the next 10 years, the school’s academic performance soared and it attracted more mostly low-income students of other ethnicities, but by 2012, things started to go wrong. An investigation by the state Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team reported finding evidence of fraud, misappropriation of funds and conflicts of interest. The investigation found that from 2007 to 2011, Chavis had directed $3.8 million from the school to companies he owned for contracts not approved by the school board.

In 2013, the Oakland Unified School District yanked the school’s charter and Chavis stepped down. After Chavis left, the school fought back in court and won reinstatement of its charter last year.

Under Woods-Cadiz, the charter school has seen many changes, including the planned move of the 35th Avenue campus, the removal of one school board member, the resignation of two others and the firing of a beloved physical education teacher — all of which has led to increased tensions at the school. Students have walked out of classes four times since March 24, when the school board ousted one of its members, Nedir Bey. Bey became a board member in 2012 after Chavis left the school, Chavis said.

Bey, who does not have any children at the school, came on campus April 20 and started yelling at staff, according to legal documents related to a restraining order against him. He returned on April 21 to a school board meeting and incited the crowd against Woods-Cadiz and board members in a way that “created the potential of physical harm and actual emotional harm,” an initial petition for the restraining order said.

“We had to call the police because the meeting got very disruptive and unsafe,” Woods-Cadiz said.

On advice of the school’s lawyer, she declined to talk about the events leading to the restraining order. The school’s attorney did not return a phone call seeking comment.

The restraining order protects Woods-Cadiz and 11 administrators and school board members from Bey. He is ordered not to harass, make violent threats, stalk, contact, come on campus or have any personal contact with those listed on the order.

“The reason we got the restraining order is for Ms. Woods-Cadiz’s safety and her family’s safety,” Leung said. “He also got involved with the operation of the school, meaning he was trying to go to the office and wanting to see files and not going through proper channels. There were other incidents where staff did not feel comfortable with him.”

The school also has hired a private security firm to make sure Bey does not come on campus.

Bey’s attorney, Chris Dobbins, a former Oakland Unified School Board member, said Bey denies the allegations in the restraining order. A hearing over the allegations to make the order permanent, throw it out or modify it could come in a couple of months, Dobbins said.

“There were no threats or harassment,” Dobbins said. “They also listed all the board members as being protected and there is no verification that Mr. Bey made any threats to them.”

Bey, a former associate of Your Black Muslim Bakery, was charged in 1994 with abducting and torturing a man who ran afoul of the bakery. He pleaded no contest to felony false imprisonment and served a home detention sentence. In 1996, Bey launched a failed health care company with more than $1.5 million of city money that he never repaid.

TURNOVER

Recent interviews with teachers and staff at the 35th Avenue campus reveal resentment and distrust over Woods-Cadiz’s changes and support for Bey. Woods-Cadiz blames Bey for the student walkouts.

Teacher Daniel Eng, who has worked at the school for nine years, is quitting at the end of the year. This year, he said, has been the worst, with the planned move of the campus, the changes on the board and the student walkouts.

“Leaving without a job to go to, this speaks volumes for me if I lasted through all the other stuff the last few years,” Eng said.

First-year teacher Cris Bautista, who teaches eighth-grade math, science, English and history at the school, replaced another teacher who quit in November, shortly after Woods-Cadiz arrived.

“It’s been hard to teach in this atmosphere, with the student walkouts and the administrative turnover,” Bautista said. “There are a lot of problems with the board and the administration, and it trickles down and it’s harmful to the students. Every day something crazy happens.”

By Doug Oakley doakley@bayareanewsgroup.com

http://www.contracostatimes.com/breaking-news/ci_28181196/high-drama-oakland-charter-school-cuts-ties-unsavory

Interesting article re: Charter Schools published in the Arizona Republic

The free-market case for district schools

The Free Market Case for District Schools

Andrew F. Morrill – AEA president: Despite a wealth of choices, more than 80 percent of Arizona parents still choose neighborhood public schools.

Over the last six years, Arizona has suffered some of the largest education funding cuts in the country. Now our governor proposes cutting more while prioritizing private prison expansion over public education investments. Is this the path to an Arizona that offers opportunity for all?

In this choice-rich state, more than 80 percent of Arizonans with school-age children still select neighborhood public schools as their education choice.

This is a staggering majority with so many options available. Where is the support for parents who make this choice? Can a governor truly claim to uphold parent choice when he is not supporting the choice that the majority of parents annually make?

Gov. Doug Ducey and the GOP leadership have negotiated a budget that proposes to cut more than $100 million from district additional assistance. The only increases our schools will see come from Arizona voters in a formula driven by student growth and inflation, in which our state’s leaders still fail to fund at the appropriate base level.

Are those parents wrong, or is this budget out of touch with true parental choice?

8 things to know about the budget:

Arizona leads the country in school choice options. In the 1990s we pioneered the charter school movement on the promise of better education delivered more cost effectively.

It is troubling, then, that at least two prominent national studies — including one out of Stanford University — show that Arizona charter school students lag behind district students in academic achievement, despite charter schools receiving more state dollars per student than district schools, according to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.

Charter supporters will argue that school districts receive money through bonds and overrides not available to charters. But many districts cannot get these passed in their communities. School districts also get federal funding because they serve special-needs students.

Charters need oversight

The number of new charter schools continues to grow at taxpayers’ expense while neighborhoods watch their public schools close due to budget cuts from the state Legislature.

According to the Washington Post, charter schools have become a booming industry for hedge fund investors who use federal tax credits to double their investments in seven years. Many charter schools are run by for-profit out-of-state corporations, putting their profits ahead of children’s well-being and classroom learning.

Without doubt, there are in Arizona many quality charter schools with committed teachers and leaders working in them; however, a quick review of headlines from other states reveals the waste, fraud and abuse committed by too many charter school operators, including some who operate several schools in Arizona.

CHARTER OWNERS: Budget cuts go way too far

In 2012, The Arizona Republic described the conflict of interest of many charter school board members, who provide vendor services to charter schools and pay themselves and family members with taxpayer money. In other states this practice is illegal, just as it is for those elected to district governing boards. But it is permissible in the charter structure. Are Arizona taxpayers aware and approving of this use of their money?

The Center for Popular Democracy and In the Public Interest recently released surveys that show the American people overwhelmingly favor common sense proposals that strengthen charter school accountability and transparency, improve teacher training and qualifications, prevent fraud, serve high-need students, and ensure that neighborhood public schools are not adversely affected by the charter industry.

Common sense dictates that schools receiving public money should be open and transparent to the public, require open board meetings, release financial reports with annual budgets and contracts, submit to regular state audits, require teachers and principals to be certified and serve all students, especially those with high needs.

Arizona’s parents should be included in the decisions made about their children’s education; the state should ensure schools provide that access.

Foundation for democracy

Our country was founded on the value that we are all created equal and that everyone has the opportunity to achieve the American Dream, regardless of race, religion or socioeconomic status. One of the mechanisms our founding fathers supported as a foundation for democracy was a public education system funded by the public for the public.

America’s neighborhood, public education system is as expansive as our country’s Constitution. Our inclusive system means that all — not just the wealthy and privileged — should receive a free, quality public education. This mandate is based on the belief that an educated citizenry benefits communities and our country. It is, therefore, the responsibility of those we elect to support our public education system.

The very term “public schools” means that they are funded and owned by — and accountable to — the public. Taxpayers own the public school system. Locally elected school boards provide oversight for the education of our children and hire district administrators to lead our schools.

Parents and community members attend and speak at public school board meetings. And the public interest in academic and financial accountability requires districts to hire certified teachers, report annual financial records and submit to state financial audits.

Community members know that strong public schools mean strong local neighborhoods. Schools hire professional, degreed teachers and administrators. Dozens of essential support roles mean hundreds of jobs for those who live within a school district. District employees spend money in their local economies; further, a majority of the money spent by school districts remains in Arizona since districts contract for services with local and state businesses.

Research by national economists shows that personal income increases as a result of investments in a state’s public education system; in fact, tax cuts often underperform school funding increases in measurable job growth. Well-educated students today mean an able and robust workforce tomorrow. And businesses often cite quality-of-life indicators, including public school quality, as more important than low taxes as criteria for relocation or expansion.

If tax cuts, rather than education funding, provided a lever for state economic growth, Arizona would certainly know it by now.

Sadly, the education choice of our elected leaders differs sharply from the majority of voters.

We talk a lot about education reform, but that talk focuses almost exclusively on district public schools. Arizona must expand that conversation to include all schools that receive public funds and hold them to an equal standard of accountability and transparency. Consistent with America’s promise, we must ensure that public dollars are invested in high-quality schools owned by and accountable to the public.

Andrew Morrill, AZ I See It 3:09 p.m. MST March 6, 2015

Andrew F. Morrill is president of the Arizona Education Association